Thursday, July 12, 2012

You want me to do what?!

Over the past few weeks there have been numerous stories of people doing crazy stuff while they were naked. They are attacking people, they are disrupting traffic, they are killing people, they are biting people. We are living in some crazy times. As I was reading the other morning I came across a passage that made me do a double take. Here is what I read:

Isaiah 20: 1-4 - In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it— 2 at that time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

3 Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, 4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt.
If I were Isaiah I think the first thing out of my mouth would have been "I'm sorry but I thought you said you wanted me to walk around naked and barefoot." And my guess is that God would have said "Yes, that's exactly what I said, now do it!" Isaiah, unlike me, appears to have been obedient for three years! He walked around naked for three years as a form of prophesy.

Another unusual form of prophesy was given to Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 4: 4-8 - 4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. 5 For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. 6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year. 7  And you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with your arm bared, and you shall prophesy against the city. 8 And behold, I will place cords upon you, so that you cannot turn from one side to the other, till you have completed the days of your siege.
Again, I think I would have said "I'm sorry Lord but it sounded like you wanted me to lie on my side for 13 months!" He probably would have said "Yes, that's exactly what I said!"

And finally this morning as I was reading I came across the story of Jeremiah's unusual prophesy:

Jeremiah 27: 1, 2 - In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. 2 Thus the Lord said to me: “Make yourself straps and yoke-bars, and put them on your neck.
I did not see how long Jeremiah had to wear them but none-the-less if I did this and walked down town I would probably be arrested within 10 or 15 minutes.

I say all of this to point out that God seems to get rather radical at times to try an communicate his love for us. He used these Old Testament prophets to try and get Israel to repent and return to him. He tried some really radical stuff to get their attention. However, none of these "strange" acts could compare to the ultimate display of God's love for a wicked and dying world. This ultimate display of God's love for us was in the sacrifice of his son on a bloody cross.

God communicated this throughout the Old Testament:

Psalm 22:

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
    a band of evil men has encircled me,
    they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
    and cast lots for my clothing.

Isaiah 53: 4, 5

4  Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
     smitten by God, and afflicted.
5  But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
     and with his wounds we are healed.
It was reiterated when we hear from John the Baptist when he sees Christ for the first time:

John 1: 29-32 - 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
I mention all of this to say that God could still use naked men or men lying on their sides for 13 months or even a guy wearing straps and yoke-bars on his neck but he probably won't. He has given us his word, the Bible, to show us who he is, what he has done for us and what our response needs to be.

We live in a time when even if God told men to do some of these things the lost would still not believe. The Bible is clear in that faith comes by hearing the words of Christ.

Romans 10: 17 - So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

John 20: 31 - 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Luke 1: 1-4  - 1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
God's word is more powerful than a naked prophet, a prophet lying on his side for over a year or a prophet running around in a yoke-bars and straps. God's word is all sufficient, are you spending time in it?

No comments:

Post a Comment